Pakistan’s urban population to equal rural by 2030: UNFPA

June 29, 2007 | By | Reply More
pakistan.jpg* 35-50pc of urban population living in katchi abadis
* Over half of world’s population to live in cities by 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled ‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) here on Wednesday.

The report was released to coincide with the launch of a UNFPA report on the global urban population, titled ‘Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth’, which says that more than half of the world’s total population will live in cities by 2008.

According to the report on Pakistan, the proportion of females is lowest in rural to urban migration and highest in rural to rural migration. The same pattern has been observed in India. In the rural-urban stream, the share of females is 51 percent in Pakistan. A relatively large fraction of rural-urban migrants crosses provincial boundaries. The perception that “the urban migrant is invariably a male” is incorrect; females make up a considerable proportion of migrants.

At least one in every three city dwellers in Pakistan lives in a slum. Many migrants, who move to cities in order to find jobs and have a better life, may not find jobs in the formal sector or any kind of decent shelter with a minimum of basic amenities. The informal sector provides employment to most migrants and they gravitate to squatter colonies where they build some kind of shelter for themselves. As a result, slum and marginal human settlements have spread in most urban localities, particularly in urban agglomerations.

In Pakistan, the urban population living in katchi abadis varies between 35 and 50 percent. The growth of these informal settlements in the two mega cities, Karachi and Lahore, has particularly been massive. In the former, these settlements increased from 212 in 1958 to more than 500. In Lahore, there are more than 300 katchi abadis, while in Faisalabad, at least 40 percent of the population lives in these abadis.

The report also shows the share of the urban population increased from 17.4 percent in 1951 to 32.5 percent in 1998. The estimated data for 2005 shows the level of urbanisation as 35 per cent. The level of urbanisation in Pakistan is the highest in South Asia.

According to the 1998 census, Sindh is the most urbanised province with 49 percent percent of the population living in urban areas. NWFP is the least urbanised province with only 17 percent of its population living in urban areas.

The shares of urban population in Punjab and Balochistan in 1998 were 31 and 23 percent respectively. There has been a visible narrowing down of the growth rate differentials among provinces, although the urban population in Balochistan and Islamabad has been increasing at higher rates of 5.1 and 5.8 percent respectively.

More than 60 percent of the population of urban Sindh lives in Karachi and this concentration has increased over time. Approximately three-quarters of the total urban population of Sindh are concentrated in just three urban centres: Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur.

In Punjab, 22 percent of the urban population lives in Lahore, and half of the total provincial urban population lives in five large cities.

Peshawar has a population of approximately one million without counting the Afghan refugees, which is 33 percent of the urban provincial population. The share of Quetta in the total urban Balochistan population was 37 percent.

More than half of the total urban population of Pakistan lived in 2005 in eight urban agglomerations: Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Hyderabad, Gujranwala and Peshawar. Between 2000 and 2005, these cities grew at the rate of around 3 percent per annum, and it’s projected that this growth rate will continue for the next eight to nine years.

By 2015 it is estimated that the population of Karachi will exceed 15 million, while Lahore and Faisalabad will cross eight million and three million-respectively.

According to the UNFPA global report, more than half of the world population, around 3.3 billion, will be living in urban areas by 2008 and the number will swell to around five billion by 2030.

Presenting the report in Islamabad, country representative of UNFPA Dr France Donnay said that the growth of cities would be the single largest influence on development in the 21st century, but little was being done to maximise the benefits of urban growth or reduce its harmful consequences. “Between 2000 and 2030, Asia’s urban population is to increase from 1.36 billion to 2.64 billion and Africa’s from 294 million to 742 million,” she said.

Rawalpindi Nazim Raja Javed Ikhlas said that his government was trying hard to provide better civic amenities in rural and urban areas without discrimination. “We spent Rs 23 billion in the last year on various developmental projects including construction of new roads and repairs of old ones, and Leh Expressway project,” he said.

A UNFPA statement received in Peshawar said that poverty, housing, environment, governance and administration were the pressing problems of new urbanites, and suggested joint action by governments, civil societies and the international community to improve the social, environmental and living conditions of the urban population. Governments must also expand schools and health services to deal with the expected explosion in the urban population.


Category: Knowledge for Development

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